Measuring learning's impact on actual results can be a challenge for a variety of reasons. First, the operational data may not be timely. Further, it may not be valid or reliable. Finally, this data may not be available. Given the challenges in linking learning to business results, we have seen enormous success in using Business Outcome Indicators to show evidence of impact of how learning supports and aligns to the business.
Let's use an example to illustrate this point. A major business services firm has a flagship leadership program. According to program stakeholders, the program should create more engaged leaders, and the concept of employee engagement was top of mind for program sponsors. The problem was that the employee engagement surveys done by the talent management team are all anonymous. There is no way to get the actual business result data on employee engagement and link them back to just the program participants. This posed a problem, because this meant there may not be a conversation around the most important business result of the program, employee engagement.
This is where the concept of the Business Outcome Indicator comes into play. A Business Outcome Indicator is an evaluation question that L&D adds to its evaluations at the end of a program so that the question(s) appears conditionally only when that course that should be aligned to the outcome is run. In this example, our learning analytics system, Performitiv, produced a Business Outcome Indicator question, conditioned to the subset of courses that were to have been aligned to employee engagement. Below is the sample question.
This data was collected at various points in the learning process. There was even a variation on the question collected at the program onset to serve as a baseline. As the program continued over 9 months and even during post-program coaching and support, the question around engagement would conditionally appear at the right time to participants. The program managers did this because employee engagement was a key area to be aligned to the program, but actual engagement results could not be tied back to the program participants due to anonymity in that survey process that L&D didn't control.
The team then trended this data and saw continuous increases in the engagement Business Outcome Indicator scores. Below is a chart of the scores before, during and after the program. They exceed goals during the later stages of the program, and after the program is over, the scores for employee engagement reach an all-time high.
While the team did not have actual employee engagement data, the Business Outcome Indicator when used as a conditional evaluation question and then trended over time and measured against a goal was now great evidence of impact in the program's value proposition.
Further, another actual result was employee turnover. Stakeholders did not want that turnover to be high after people take the program. Luckily, that actual data did exist and it could be tracked like the following.
Turnover was decreasing from before the program began until after the program ended. Further, the team was also able to compare turnover to a control group of non-program participants too and program participants had lower turnover.
Finally, to tie the Business Outcome Indicator (Employee Engagement) to the business result of Turnover, the team created the below chart.
The orange bar is the Business Outcome Indicator of Employee Engagement and it steadily increases as the program starts, continues and completes while the actual business result of Leader Turnover, as seen by the blue bar, is getting better as well, by decreasing since before, then during and finally after the program completes.
In the end, telling your story of impact should not be complex, costly and cumbersome. It should be a roughly reasonable process of gathering evidence of impact. The Performitiv system automates the collection and reporting of this impact data and does so at an affordable cost with modern software.
If you're feeling pain around showing your value and telling your impact story, please consider giving us a call.
The Performitiv Team